June 28th shots rung out in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The visiting Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife have been assassinated. The Austro-Hungarians declare war with the backing of the Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German forces. This causes Russia, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Serbia to all join in the war. The Germans and Austrians form one side and the rest form the other side of the conflict. This is where we find ourselves, in the early days of World War I in Quartermaster General 1914.
In Quartermaster General 1914 there are up to 5 players who take up the roles of the leaders of Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and United States, France and Italy, and Austro-Hungry and Ottoman Empire. For the game I was playing I took Germany and Austro-hungry and the Ottomans and Rick took the rest. This was the late night session of what was a very scaled down virtual BertCon this year (shakes fist at COVID-19).
Quartermaster General 1914 is a follow-up to a wonderfully designed game simply called Quartermaster General. Both games are a card driven war game. I havent played anything quite like it myself. Rick actually picked up a copy of Quartermaster General at Gencon (around 2016). Its the only war game my wife has enjoyed. She was once asked if she ever wanted to rule the world to which she answered "NO!". So I think that speaks to the simplicity of the original version. In QM 1914 they add in some features that ups the complexity.
Much like in the classic Diplomacy there are only navys and armies that get placed on the
board. The only way to place armies and navys is by playing a card from your hand. After you play a card its placed in the discard pile. There is no coming back from there in this game and when you are out of cards you no longer can do anything except lose victory points. You need to use your cards wisely in this game. This mechanic is great for keeping it simple but it can have the side effect of randomly giving you bad hands. This is what Germany suffered from in our game. I struggled to get my offense moving early on and let Russia and France take too much land. But not to fear as you will likely go through the entire deck during the game I got those clutch early game cards at the end of the game. I think this is more of a rare occurrence in this game but as I experienced it can happen.
QM 1914 adds a prepared cards section witch is new for this version. You may add a card to the prepared cards section at the end of your turn. These can be used as reaction cards to a battle (reinforce navy or army). You can also use them when you are attacking to bolster your attack (sustain sea and land). When a battle card is played the defender can play a reinforcement card then the attacker may play a sustain card from the prepared cards section. This goes on until you decide to stop. Then the battle is decided. This does a good job of simulating the trench warfare of WWI. At the very end of the turn you can play attrition cards from the prepared cards section these make another player have to discard cards. Deciding weather a card's main function or using it as a prepared card makes for a very tough choice and adds some hard choices as you are playing with a limited amount of cards.
You are not going to play this for three days like Risk or other war games.
What I like about this is that its a limited play style of war game. There are only 17 turns with 5 scoring rounds sprinkled in. You are not going to play this for three days like Risk or other war games. Its pretty true to the play time, it took Rick and I a little longer due to using Tabletop Simulator but that comes as part of using TTS. This should be a game you play at least once. I would love to play this game with a full complement of players. I feel that managing several countries at one was not as fun and lead to some snap decisions that were costly latter in the game.
Designed by: Ian Brody
Published by: PSC Games
Year Published: 2016
Recommended Ages: 12+
Time to Play: 120 minutes